DRY LAND is a play about abortion, the harshness and sweetness of young womanhood, and the sticky ambience of a high school locker room.
I decided to go see a play last weekend, based solely on the fact that I knew one of the leads, and one of my friends who participated in theater was interested in going. The Facebook event told me the play was called Dry Land, with the promotional picture being two girls in swimsuits (presumably of a racing variety) lying down next to each other.
Every so often, with the event upcoming, I would see some pictures from rehearsals. It seemed the set consisted solely of a fake pool locker room with benches. The racing swimsuits were confirmed. Upon buying my ticket, that was all the information I had.
I showed up alone, to a small theater on campus, and received my program from what I later learned was one of the producers of the play. The first one in the theater, I sat on the far end of the second row of black chairs. There were only four rows in total, perhaps seating about 20 each. I was within 30 feet of the illuminated set: the same pool locker room floor I had seen online.
Opening the program, I scanned the cast and read the biographies printed inside. There were a mix of recent graduates, and those still going to the University of Minnesota, involved in the theater department. Soon I made my way to the summary, where I was met with the description this review begins with.
I realized I was at this play alone, mostly to see someone who I had met over a few weeks when I was a pit member for another musical, but who I had hardly seen since. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable, but I realized this was a rather immature feeling. So I settled in for what would likely be an engaging play.
I was completely blown away at the end, fairly close to tears. I won’t give much of a plot summary, but let it suffice to say the how we view friendship was questioned, and there was a very long scene where an aborted fetus was being passed, complete with copious amounts of fake blood. Mixed in were fights, complete silence, lonely scenes where a character was on stage for minutes without speaking. Altogether it was a fantastically beautiful play, exploring the dynamics of relationships we have with each other and ourselves at a time period — between high school and college — where we are transitioning our lives and determining who will remain as we move forward.
While the run of the play is over at this point (it was only on for a weekend) I highly recommend finding other performances online (if available) or locally. I was deeply affected, in a way I can’t quite replicate via writing a few days later. While the play was uncomfortable at times, an audience who can take it quietly will come out with a greater sense of empathy.